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A Lineage of Christmas: A Homemade Jesse Tree

Last year, when aspiring to add more Christ into our Christmas, I remembered a conversation I had several years prior with a friend. Over brunch one morning, she lovingly recounted a faith-filled Christmas tree that her grandmother always had on display. It was not decorated with sparkling lights and gold balls, but rather the symbols of a lineage...a heavenly lineage woven together with threads of humanity. It told the story of God's love and redeeming work throughout Scripture. It told of the preparation for His Son and how He brought about His perfect work in His perfect timing. It told of the Christ of Christmas.

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After recalling that conversation I had with my friend, I couldn't quite remember what the Advent-style tree was called, so I went searching online. I found many different versions of this story tree, but they all shared the same name...a Jesse Tree...and stem from a passage in Isaiah.

A shoot will come up from the root of Jesse...
Isaiah 11:1

Homemade Jesse Tree with Scripture verses-The Unlikely Homeschool

Although a few of the resources I found had printable tags you could use, I was not impressed with the chronology or emphasis of any of the trees I saw. So, I decided to make one myself. Using some branches, a vase, some scrapbook paper, ribbon, and markers, I set out to create a pictorial account of the story of Christ.

Homemade Jesse Tree with Scripture verses-The Unlikely Homeschool

I introduced my completed tree during the first week of Advent. Each night at dinner in place of our normal family devotions, we read a key passage of Scripture, discussed the symbol that I had assigned to that particular portion, how that character or event fit into the story of Christ, and hung a Christmas tag on our tree. By Christmas, we had journeyed through the whole of the Old Testament and eagerly hung the final tag, rejoicing in a story that could only have been written by the hand of God.

Homemade Jesse Tree with Scripture verses-The Unlikely Homeschool

Although not all of the pieces represent an actual family member of Christ, they each reflect a key player in God's timeline of preparation. Our family tree symbols and Scripture references are as follows:
  1. Creation- the world (Gen. 1)
  2. Adam and Eve- a snake wrapped around an apple (Gen. 3:1-19)
  3. Noah- an ark (Gen. 6:9-8:22)
  4. Abraham- stars (Gen. 12:1-9, 22:17-18)
  5. Isaac- ram's head (Gen. 22:1-14)
  6. Jacob- ladder (Gen. 27-28:22)
  7. Joseph- striped coat (Gen. 37)
  8. Moses- burning bush (Ex. 3:1-10)
  9. Moses- lamb (Ex. 12)
  10. Moses- 10 Commandment tablets (Deut. 5:1-22)
  11. Rahab- scarlet cord (Joshua 2)
  12. Joshua- trumpet (Joshua 6:1-23)
  13. Gideon- pitcher (Judges 7:2-23)
  14. Ruth- stalks of wheat (Ruth 1-2:18)
  15. David- horn of oil or shepherd's staff(1 Sam. 16:1-13)
  16. Elijah- altar of stones (1 Kings 18:1-39)
  17. King Hezekiah- a tent (2 Kings 19:8-35)
  18. Queen Esther- a crown (Esther 2-5)
  19. Isaiah- tree stump (Isaiah 9:1)
  20. Daniel- lion's face (Daniel 6)
  21. Jonah- whale (Jonah 1-3:5)
  22. Habbakuk- a watchtower (Hab. 2:1-4)
  23. Zechariah- a tablet (Luke 1:5-25)
  24. Mary- an angel (Luke 1:26-38)
  25. John the Baptist- sandals (Matt. 3)
  26. Joseph- a hammer (Matt. 1:18-25)
  27. Magi- a crown with a star over it (Matt. 2:1-12)
  28. Jesus- manger (Luke 2:1-21)

Since making our handmade set, I have found a companion book called The Jesse Tree and a fantastic printable Jesse Tree curriculum from New York Times best-selling author Ann Voskamp. Be sure to head over to grab this wonderful free gift. I have decided to continue with our homemade set, however, as it was an instant family classic last year.


  1. It's so easy to lose the real meaning of Christmas in all the chaos of the season. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. My family has really enjoyed making a Jesse Tree for the last few years - this helps us remember the Bible stories that lead up to the birth of Jesus. A couple of years ago a friend and I made up a set of printable ornaments - with a story on one side and an illustration for kids to colour on the other side. These hang great on a garland or a small tree and add so much tradition to the holidays. I'd love you to check our set of ornaments at http://etsy.me/1xzpd78. Thanks and blessings on your Advent season!

  3. We are starting our own Jesse tree tradition this year. Love yours! Is it okay with you if I share a pic of your tree with my church for an article giving ideas for celebrating Advent?

    1. Yes, that will be fine. Please just include a link to the original post as a citation.